by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, August 1, 2016
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 31, 2016
The finale of Food Network Star — wow. It has been a long journey to this point, and I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know the finalists far more intensively than ever before. It has been a privilege to watch them spread their wings, make mistakes, be humbled, be exhilarated, reboot and then finally arrive at the final three.
When the finalists walk out, I am struck by how different each one is from the other. Jernard, the self-described "chef of love," is such an affable, loving Creole-cooking chef. Damiano, our resident Italian prince, has such an elevated idea of food. He has great cooking chops and can make both Mexican and Italian food with such ease. He can also bake a mean cake and whip up fab gelato from ice pops — a critical skill set for a Star! Tregaye is all about mixing fun and food. She feeds off food trends and represents what's new and exciting (#OnFleek) in the food world. She also happens to back it up with great, flavorful cooking.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 29, 2016
There's no doubt that all three of the top Food Network Star finalists brought their everything to the months-long competition, but ultimately Tregaye Fraser, a chef and a mom of two, earned the coveted title of Food Network Star in an emotional (and appropriately on-fleek) reveal. We were on the set of the finale and caught up with Tregaye just moments after her victory. Read on below for an exclusive interview with her, then click the play button on the video above to go on set with her and the mentors.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 28, 2016
This. Is. It.
Fresh off last week's momentous pilot shoot with Guy Fieri, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye are set to return to Food Star Kitchen for the last time on Sunday for what will be a life-changing finale — for one of them. These three Food Network Star hopefuls, each with 10 weeks of competition highs and lows behind them, have proved they're the worthiest of the coveted title and the ones with the brightest flickers of Star power. Now all that's left to do is watch their debut pilots before their mentors, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, welcome one of them to the Food Network family with the title of Food Network Star.
Take a sneak peek at Sunday's finale with the photo above. Along with their fellow cast mates, the final three have come together to look back on this groundbreaking — and downright entertaining — season and ultimately learn who among them is Food Network's newest Star.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 27, 2016
"Each of you will have 60 minutes to cook the dish of your life," Giada De Laurentiis told the finalists on Sunday night. "And make sure, you guys, that the dish you make leaves no doubt that you should be the next Food Network Star."
That's some pressure, huh?
The four hopefuls who remained at that point in Sunday's new episode knew that their offerings had to be some of their best in the competition — and ultimately three of them delivered on the high demands. Damiano's elegant cake, Jernard's bold pork chop-mac and cheese combo and Tregaye's surf-and-turf brunch shined with not only impressive flavors, but also with the competitors' signature points of view, so much so that these three finalists clinched the coveted three pilot opportunities.
Now it's your turn to try your hand at these all-important plates. Get the recipes for Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's offerings below.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 26, 2016
Each and every one of the challenges on Food Network Star was important this season, from the finalists' first attempts at cold-open videos in the premiere episode to the holiday parties that took place in Week 9. But Sunday night's very last face-off was indeed the most-crucial one for Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and Yaku, the competitors still remaining at that point, as Giada told them, "Each of you will have 60 minutes to cook the dish of your life." The mentors would be tasting those dishes and watching their corresponding videos before doling out just three pilot opportunities, so all the finalists realized the higher-than-ever stakes at hand.
All four hopefuls welcomed help from sous chefs as they worked on their dishes, but for Damiano, baking alongside Rob quickly turned into more of a burden than a blessing. He was set on making St. Honoré cake, which he called "the best dessert you can make," and he looked to Rob for assistance in executing it. But thanks to Rob's unfamiliarity with baking, he only managed to cause Damiano stress. "I'm a guy that prides himself on re-creating leftovers and making comfort food. I've never used a scale," Rob declared after Damiano saddled him with taking metric measurements for a series of ingredients. What ensued was a tense — albeit downright hilarious — back-and-forth between Damiano and Rob as they attempted to work together to complete Damiano's dish on time.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, July 25, 2016
We're just days ahead of Sunday's Food Network Star finale and the announcement of this year's winner, and no one knows what the top-three hopefuls, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye, are feeling right now better than Guy Fieri. Ten years ago this bona fide superstar was filming his own pilot and waiting in eager anticipation for the results, just like the Season 12 finalists are today. Now he's returned to the Food Network Star competition, not as a finalist, of course, but as the director of Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's pilots. His past as a competitor and his decade of shining on Food Network on such fan-favorite series as Guy's Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives means that he has a unique perspective on the pilot process and what it takes to film a successful show.
We checked in with Guy to find out what it's like to be back on the show that launched his Stardom and get his take on his last 10 years on Food Network. Read on below for an exclusive one-on-one interview with him, then click the play button on the video above to hear more.
It was just 10 years ago that you were in these finalists' shoes, filming your pilot and going for the win. What’s it like to have the tables turned and to be right back where you started?
Guy Fieri: This round of Food Network Star — they just get better and better. Each year I think that people are watching the show, seeing how it works, upping their game. I mean, these three that I’ve had a chance to work with have upped their game so much. They would have beat me back in the day. The game gets tougher, the challenges are more difficult, and they’re really talented. I think you could have a show out of any one of them. I would tune in. ... My interest in it is how coachable they are, and they’re really enthusiastic, and they got good creds. Any one of them could do great.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 22, 2016
We are down to the final three Food Network Star competitors: Jernard, Tregaye and Damiano. What a season! I don't know about you, but I feel like the cream has definitely risen to the top in this pack of finalists. I just can't really decide who the winner will be.
I have had the pleasure of co-hosting a great web series, Star Salvation, with Eddie Jackson, the divine Food Network Star, Season 11 winner. Together we put the eliminated finalists through a series of additional tests as a learning process before picking one winning finalist to head back to the Food Network Star competition for a second chance. Eddie is all smiles and confidence, but he is also a tough cookie! Together we explored each finalist's culinary point of view and coaxed more dimension in front of the camera. Truth? More than one of the eliminated finalists deserved another crack at Stardom, but one really brought it: Chef Yaku. How can such a tall human become almost small and vulnerable in front of a camera? It's a simple answer: love of food. The man just gets so into his cooking and sharing his recipes! He is the obvious winner of Star Salvation. And now, just as the three finalists emerge for their final pre-finale test, out walks Yaku to join the competition. The mission in this episode is to make a dish in 60 minutes that embodies their points of view. Then, make a video (only one minute long!) in which they each describe and eat their dish. Piece of cake, right?!
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 21, 2016
Sunday's new episode marks the penultimate week in the Food Network Star, Season 12 competition. After nearly two months of camera challenges, culinary face-offs, unexpected twists and a roster of special guests, only one challenge stands between the remaining rivals and the opportunity to film pilots for their would-be shows on Food Network. The current top three — Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye — and the to-be-announced winner of Star Salvation have all put in the work to land among the final-four hopefuls. And mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have worked just as hard to find those with the brightest glimmers of Star power. After all, when the judges met the competitors just 10 weeks ago, most weren't ready for the spotlight and indeed needed to be taught critical know-how.
Before you tune in on Sunday at 9|8c to find out which hopefuls will go on to shoot pilots, we're challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this high-five moment in the comments below.
Tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 20, 2016
It was just a few years ago that Aarti Sequeira secured her future as a Food Network Star, besting her fellow finalists to earn the Season 6 crown. Now, with incomparable been-there-done-that wisdom and an acute realization of what the remaining Season 12 finalists are feeling at this point, she's set to return to Food Star Kitchen on Sunday to watch Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and the returning Star Salvation victor compete for three pilot opportunities.
We caught up with her on set to hear what it's like to be back on Food Network Star and walk down competition-memory lane. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Aarti to get her take on what's ahead for the finalists this week.
What's it like to be on the other side of the competition, as a judge and not a finalist?
Aarti Sequeira: It feels way better to be on this side of it. ... It's so hard to actually put yourself back in that position, only because it feels like so long ago, and it kind of was so long ago. I remember that it was bittersweet at this point. Maybe it's my nature or maybe it's the nature of the competition, but you get so close to these people, you know what I mean? And you know what it would mean for them to win, you know obviously what it would mean for you to win. But you want only the best for them ... and it's hard because you know that it's a mutually exclusive deal. If you win, they don't. If they win, you don't. There's no gray area there, and so it's tough. It's a tough psychological place to be.
This is it. After five weeks of culinary and camera challenges, Star Salvation hosts Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson have just one battle left to judge before selecting the finalist who's most worthy of returning to the Food Network Star competition. Monterey, Yaku and this week's newcomer, Ana, are set to showcase classic dishes reminiscent of their hometowns after taking in an expert food demo by none other than one of their mentors, Alex. It's up to each of them to not only demonstrate their expertise and authority in the kitchen, but also convey a presence on camera that's both easygoing and commanding. Ultimately two of these hopefuls will fall in a final effort to continue on the road to Stardom, while one will rejoin the Season 12 cast in Sunday's penultimate episode of Food Network Star.
Click the play button on the video above to watch Monterey, Yaku and Ana face off for the last time, and tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to find out who's earned Salvation.